Nurse becomes patient

Nurses do not always make the best patients, and Fanta from Cameroon was certainly a fine example of that. She had let a benign tumour grow out of her left arm for 10 years, until it got to the point that she need a major surgery, to remove a 4.5kg lump from her upper left arm.

Of course, when you are a nurse in a West African country it is quite understandable to be concerned about the serious risk of infection or haemorrhage associated with any major surgery. Not to mention the cost involved that many normal people just cannot afford. Fanta attended one of the screening days and was selected for a free surgery aboard the hospital ship Africa Mercy.

“I was really surprised at how calm and collected I was” says Fanta, “As I was admitted to the ward I remember looking around me and I could see how nice and clean and well-organized everything was. The nurses on board were just so kind a caring, and it really helped me to relax and I just knew I could trust them”. It took 3 hours to remove the watermelon-sized tumour from Fanta’s arm.

Before the surgery, Fanta would be so ashamed of the fact that she was too scared to get the rumour removed. “How could I help my patients,” she said, “if I was too afraid of having the surgery myself?” The ships specialized training team have also been working with the staff at the local hospitals in Cameroon, to improve conditions and reduce the risks through safe surgery training. This way patients like Fanta need not be so afraid of having a much-needed surgery.